Euro 2012’s Group B, the “Group of Death,” concluded today with Portugal and Germany notching 2-1 victories against Holland and Denmark, respectively. Germany very impressively took the full nine points to win the group and Portugal finished second with six, with their only loss 1-0 to the Germans. Portugal have looked better every match they have played, and today their superstar, Cristiano Ronaldo, finally got on the scoresheet with both goals and at least three other near-misses. He is coming into form at the best possible time for the Portuguese, who will be the favorites in their quarterfinal against the Czech Republic. Portugal’s other superstar, Nani, also had a very strong match, setting up the second goal minutes after he had squandered a beautiful scoring chance himself. Portugal look very dangerous at the moment, and should be able to take advantage of the Czechs’ spotty defending. Likewise, Germany should have no problem beating Greece, though the Greece are, of course, experts at squeaking out shocking victories in matches like this.
It is not surprising that the Germans and Portuguese went through, though I predicted that Portugal would not. What is surprising is that the 2012 World Cup finalists Holland would fail to advance, and that they would do so with three losses and only two goals scored! It is their worst showing ever at a major tournament, and they were clearly the worst team in the group. They looked tired throughout the tournament as well as uninspired, as though they assumed that they could be on cruise-control until the knockout stages. Kudos to the other three teams in the group for taking advantage of this lethargy.